On Wednesday 16 March 2016, Mr Longwei Chang from St Ives Chinese and Thai Takeaway pleaded guilty to three food hygiene offences at Peterborough Magistrates Court, in a case brought by Huntingdonshire District Council.
The breaches were witnessed on 1 December 2015 during a routine visit to the premises at The Broadway, St Ives, by Environmental Health Protection Officer, Belinda Betham. Mrs Betham witnessed cross-contamination risks in the kitchen, blocked drains in the rear yard and poor standards of cleaning and disinfection. Food handlers were not adequately trained in food hygiene matters - Mr Chang was not trained in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles and there was no documented food safety management system in place.
Following the inspection, Mr Chang agreed to voluntarily close the premises in order to clear the blocked drains and to carry out urgent cleaning and disinfection tasks. The premises were issued with a food hygiene rating of zero (urgent improvement necessary).
Mr Chang, who was not legally represented, told the court that he had loans to pay and had no weekly income.
The defendant was fined £450 for the offences and ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £1,400 and a victim surcharge of £45. Magistrates stated that Mr Chang’s actions may have had serious health consequences to customers and that ignorance of food hygiene responsibilities was no defence. Magistrates went on to state that Huntingdonshire District Council officers had done everything reasonable to assist Mr Chang and credit should be given to them for bringing the prosecution.
Chris Stopford, Head of Community Services, said: "We always try to work alongside food businesses and offer advice and support to ensure high standards are maintained in food safety; prosecutions are rare. In this case there were clearly some very serious issues, and public health and safety must come first."
There are over 1,200 food businesses in Huntingdonshire which are inspected and rated under the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, with just seven premises with a zero rating. Ratings can be searched for online at www.food.gov.uk/ratings, or look out for the distinctive black and green rating sticker and certificate displayed in food premises.